One of the strangest developments in the whole history of human art came in 1911, when famous painters began producing pieces that looked–to the untrained eye, at any rate–like the work of an industrious three-year-old. The paintings had colors and lines and sometimes shapes, but those weren’t arranged in a way that resembled people or chairs or fruit or any other thing that exists in the real world. Or, as the curators at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) put it in the museum’s exhibition Inventing Abstraction, the paintings “dispensed with recognizable subject matter.”
To help us understand how such a bold new form of expression gained the traction and influence it did over a span of just a few years, designers and curators at MoMA created a visualization that shows the many interpersonal connections between abstract artists of the era.
According to its creators, the diagram shows that “abstraction was not the inspiration of a solitary genius but the product of network thinking–of ideas moving through a nexus of artists and intellectuals working in different mediums and in far-flung places.”
Check out the full graphic here.